After the Ravens’ 41-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Oct. 24, former Ravens receiver Qadry Ismail compared Bengals star rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase to an old foe.
Ismail, 50, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 1993 NFL Draft. From there, Ismail played for the Vikings (1993-1996), Miami Dolphins (1997) and New Orleans Saints (1998) before playing in Baltimore (1999-2001) and winning Super Bowl XXXV.
Ismail was one of the Ravens’ primary receivers during his time in Baltimore. Ismail played in 47 games and started 44 for the Ravens, amassing more than 2,800 receiving yards and 18 receiving touchdowns. After his stint with the Ravens, Ismail played one more season with the Indianapolis Colts (2002) before retiring.
Chase, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, reminds Ismail of former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith, a frequent nemesis of Baltimore back when the Jaguars and Ravens were in the AFC Central. A prolific receiver in the 1990s and early 2000s, Smith was a five-time Pro Bowler (1997-2001) and racked up more than 12,000 receiving yards and 67 receiving touchdowns.
Smith’s most memorable performance against the Ravens came in Week 2 of the 2000 Super Bowl season. Smith finished with 291 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns on 15 receptions.
“Jimmy Smith was incredibly fast with just such a powerful lower body,” Ismail said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 25 in comparing Smith and Chase.
In Chase’s first game in Charm City, the 6-foot-1, 201-pound receiver had eight receptions on 10 targets for 201 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown in which he broke three tackles en route to the end zone.
Ismail pointed to a few other plays in explaining the difficulties the Ravens had containing Chase.
“[Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith] was covering him and they tried to go to him on a third-down situation and he undercut the route and it was just a savvy veteran knowing what to do. They come back. Jimmy’s now isolated on Ja’Marr, and Ja’Marr literally, just magnificently, gets out of his break and catches the ball for a first down,” Ismail said. “He did the same thing to a younger, fresher, more talented [cornerback], at least as far as his prime is concerned, in Marlon Humphrey.”
From dropping catch after catch during the preseason, Chase is second in the league in receiving yards with 754. The 21-year old will play the Ravens at least one more time this year and will be a part of the Bengals’ offense for years to come.
“Where Ja’Marr Chase kind of scares me is just his explosiveness,” Ismail said. “I get nervous when it comes to trying to keep up with a dynamic receiver like that.”
Even though the Ravens are standing second in the AFC North and are 5-2, Ismail is worried about Baltimore’s defense, specifically pointing out the struggles the defense has had in tackling. In seven games, the Ravens’ defense has given up 2,073 passing yards for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt.
The run game is also suffering, according to Ismail. The Ravens have yet to find answers in the backfield after season-ending injuries to Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. Even though the Ravens have 1,046 rushing yards in seven games, quarterback Lamar Jackson has accounted for nearly half of those yards (480).
“They’re both the elephant in the room,” Ismail said about the Ravens defense and the running back situation. “The Ravens, without Lamar Jackson, would be a team that possibly would have one win.”
Ismail believes that simply relying on Jackson will close the “small window of opportunity” for a Super Bowl run. However, there is a silver lining. Ismail explained that multiple players are “in the mix” in the passing game and are showing flashes of great football when needed.
Ismail also thinks that rookie Rashod Bateman adds a much-needed weapon for the passing game. In his second career start against the Bengals, Bateman had three receptions on six targets for 80 yards.
As the Ravens head into their bye week, one thing is for certain; the season is still young. The Super Bowl window of opportunity that Ismail addressed is not lost as long as the Ravens address their issues on both sides of the ball.
“There’s a ton of football left. Not every team is going to be built to beat your Ravens,” Ismail said. “You’ve got to look at like, ‘All right, who do we [have] next?'”
For more from Ismail, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox